Is speaking as important as it used to be?
Absolutely. Speaking in public has fallen off the agenda. In the olden days it used to be common to have to stand up and speak at school, whether in class or in assembly. These days it seems less important. But to deliver a speech or a presentation in a clear and confident manner needs a well prepared voice.
What can we do to be prepared?
The best thing you can do is practice. The sound of your voice has got to be interesting, so change the pitch, use different tones, pause for effect… but mainly get out there and practice.
How do you project your voice?
Projecting is not just about your voice. Speaking is the end of a very long process.
A bit like this: we have a thought, then an intention to speak and then we breathe.
We think of the words, a message goes from our brains to our lungs, air comes in and goes back out, hits our vocal chords, vibrates and then comes out of our mouth.
It’s only at the end of the chain that the words appear.
You need to get your thoughts in order to have the best chance of projecting your voice.
Should I use a microphone?
If you’re going to use a microphone remember to reduce your volume, taking a more conversational level. Try to imagine the microphone as a human ear. It’s fine to use a microphone but you can project your voice without one.
What if I have a strong accent?
All accents are fine and there’s no single accent that is better. The trick is to be clear and use a version of your accent that you would for your boss, a teacher or when you’re meeting the in-laws for the first time!
What do people often get wrong?
There are a few things that tend to crop up all the time. People start to shout as they are too keen to project and it sounds aggressive. Similarly, some people are so tense that their voice gets tense too, becoming high pitched, for example.
Managing your breathing and your nerves will help with your confidence, and if you’re feeling confident that will come through in your voice.
How can I look after my voice?
Hydration – make sure you’re drinking enough, whether it’s water, fruit juices, tea etc.
Getting enough rest is also important; otherwise a late night may result in a croaky voice. Your voice only reflects how you feel – if you feel poorly, your voice will sound poorly too.
Top Tips on Vocal Technique
- Check out the space you’re speaking in
- Talk before you go on
- Stay hydrated
By The Speaker http://www.bbc.co.uk/speaker/
Interview with Elspeth Morrison